The original Super Meat Boy released to huge commercial success back in 2010 and has gone on to be known as one of the very best 2d platformers of all time. Though it can be extremely difficult, the first game is considered by some gamers to be a masterpiece and has gone on to inspire many other platformers over the past ten years. Now, the series has returned with Super Meat Boy Forever.
With such a long break between entries and an incredibly lengthy development cycle, many fans have wondered if a follow-up could ever live up to the greatness of the original. Unfortunately, while Super Meat Boy Forever doesn't hit that same level, the game isn't without its merits, either.
On its surface, Super Meat Boy Forever shares much of its identity with the 2010 original. The graphics and music are nearly identical, which is a very good thing. The cartoonish visuals are simple, yet visually stunning and give off a very Saturday morning cartoon-like feel to them (albeit much more violent and gruesome). The art style almost has a Newgrounds flash game-type vibe to it, which isn't a bad thing. And speaking of cartoon visuals, Forever's cut scenes are some of the biggest stand-outs.
The game's story is simple, with Dr. Fetus returning to kidnap Meat Boy and Bandage Girl's child, sending the parents on a quest to request it. The game features some very lovable characters, with many new ones introduced as well. But unfortunately, pretty visuals, colorful characters, and a fun story aren't enough to save Super Meat Boy Forever.
The biggest change made in Forever from the original game is in its game design. Whereas the original title featured level design that was hand-crafted in order to offer challenging yet rewarding gameplay, the sequel is made up of randomly generated levels. The title Forever refers to the seemingly infinite amount of levels, but the quality likely won't encourage repeat playthroughs.
This is made worse by the fact that the game no longer plays like a regular platformer, and is instead an auto-runner. There are many great auto-runners out there, from Runner 3 to the Rayman mobile games, but unfortunately for Forever, this change from traditional platformer to auto-runner feels like a substantial downgrade. By eliminating the player's freedom of movement, many of the platforming challenges featured throughout the game feel difficult but in all the wrong ways, as much of the control is taken away from the player. While surely some of the fans of the original game might enjoy this change in gameplay, it is such a drastic change that it alters the identity of the sequel.
One saving grace that the game gives checkpoints to players after every segment of every level, meaning players will never have to start over entire stages if they continue to die over and over on one particular obstacle. This is appreciated, though it still doesn't change the fact that the game's platforming is incredibly frustrating, and often lacking in fun.
With all of this said, Super Meat Boy Forever can still be a fun game at times. The game's boss battles, which are not auto-generated, each have their own level of personality and charm, and will take a bit of work in order to defeat. And because of their hand-crafted nature, all of the boss fights flow very well and are genuinely fun to play. The boss fights show that, if the developers had taken the same approach with the rest of the game, Forever could be a far better game overall.
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